BALTIMORE — 24 hours after announcing plans to add much-needed beds to treat an anticipated surge of coronavirus cases, Governor Larry Hogan arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center to get a first-hand look at converting the site for treatment.
“FEMA is going to deliver the pallet on a truck," Maryland Health CEO Dennis Schrader explained to the governor. "We’ve already worked it out with the convention center---logistics. They’ll bring the truck down here. We’ll unload the boxes.”
The plan is to use the National Guard to help set up 250 beds in a set of pods in the barren 100,000 square foot of space with an option to add more beds as needed.
The state's current capacity of 10,000 beds throughout its hospital system may fall well short of what is needed during a surge in cases.
“Ramping up 70 percent capacity in our hospital system and 6,000 beds is quite a huge undertaking," said Hogan. "This is a big part of it.”
The makeshift emergency facility would take pressure off of hospitals and emergency rooms in the city where only the most seriously ill would be transferred.
“There are places around the country that are looking at tents… field hospitals," said Hogan. "This is certainly a much better scenario when you’re in a beautiful, climate-controlled facility like this with the ability to serve meals.”
Plans are also underway to prepare to staff the center once it's up and running.
“We’re going to be reaching out to individuals across the state who perhaps are not working in their healthcare site any more, ambulatory sites, ambulatory service centers to see if they can come help us staff facilities like this where people are not as sick, yet still need care,” said John Efron of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Another challenge is locating protective gear and ventilators, which are in short supply across the country.